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16 June, 2024
 

Luxury brand Hermès sued over Birkin bag sales

Class-action complaint claims access to iconic luxury accessory tied to purchase history, sparks legal battle

Newsroom

Two California residents have initiated legal action against French luxury design company Hermès, alleging discriminatory sales practices surrounding its highly coveted Birkin handbags.

The class-action lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco, contends that Hermès restricts access to Birkin bags solely to customers with a history of purchasing other Hermès items such as shoes, scarves, and belts. According to the plaintiffs, this requirement for a qualified “purchase profile” violates antitrust laws by effectively tying the purchase of a Birkin to the acquisition of additional luxury goods.

The Birkin handbag, named after British actor and singer Jane Birkin, is widely regarded as a symbol of status and fashion icon. With prices ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, the bags are considered a high-end accessory sought after by affluent consumers.

Notably, the lawsuit asserts that Birkin bags are not available for purchase on the Hermès website and are not openly displayed in the company's retail stores, of which there are over 40 in the U.S., including eight in California. Instead, customers are allegedly shown the handbags in private rooms only if they meet certain criteria of Hermès' discretion.

Sales associates at Hermès are accused of promoting this practice by encouraging customers to buy multiple other items to qualify for purchasing a Birkin. Seeking class-action status, the lawsuit aims to represent thousands of customers who have either bought Hermès products or been encouraged to do so to gain access to Birkin bags.

“The unique desirability, incredible demand and low supply of Birkin handbags gives Defendants incredible market power,” the lawsuit states. However, it does not detail how customers could demonstrate they were affected by the alleged discriminatory policy.

As of now, Hermès has not issued a response to the lawsuit.

[Source: Los Angeles Times]

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